After the CAPOS defined blogs and all that retrospective stuff; I want to do a new story, one that you’ve never heard of before! Something fresh!
Okay, the events of this story happened in the winter of 2010. We, my wife, son, and I, were living in south Etobicoke, which is a part of the Greater Toronto Area.
I was doing the Stay at Home Daddy gig to my older son, who was three that winter. I was looking for opportunities for him to get out and socialize with other kids. So we started to spend afternoons at a free drop-in daycare centre, which was three blocks east of our apartment. Parents had to stay with their child, so it was fun for the kids; I think my boy liked it! I had long chats with staff, especially Brian, the resident Dad, either by intervenor or by pen & paper.
This is important; because I was with my boy every day, and I wanted a break, a breather. Yet, make sure you understand, I never felt trapped or constricted! I had opportunities to connect with other parents, go out, and best of all, I had time with my son! That was a fun time!
So, getting back to Brian, he was supportive, helpful and insightful. He set me up with a free daycare opportunity!
There was an opening coming up and Brian recommended we try it out! Perfect! However, as he was leaving to get the coordinator, he warned me about her; a caveat I laughed off.
Brian found Donna, and we chatted about the opportunity, while my boy played with some puzzles. I had an intervenor that afternoon. Later that day, I told my wife; we had a meeting with Donna sometime that same week. My wife had some reservations, concerns, about Donna, however she relaxed and we agreed to go ahead with the opportunity.
I recall Donna asking me specifically during the meeting: “What are you going to do while your son is at daycare?” I’m not sure how I answered, maybe I made a joke about going shopping, I know we had a chuckle. However, looking back, was that really any of Donna’s business? Was she responsible for the child and the parent?? No, what I did while my boy was in daycare is of no concern to the coordinator. Do Principals keep tabs on what parents do? No, they don’t, so why was I being asked? I should have replied more firmly like “What I do during the day is none of your concern. Thank you.”
Anyways, we gradually started the boy off, two fridays he started at 9, but was picked up at 12, this was to ease him into a schedule.
On the first full day of daycare, my son & I rode the streetcar to the daycare. Upon arrival, I handed over my son, with sippy cup, diaper bag and change of clothes. I told him “I love you” in ASL and gave him a hug, watched him go independently behind the door into the gym. Off you go…
The daycare manager, a lady who’s name I forget, wrote on my pad, see you at 2:45. It is advised to be there early, but parents can arrive at 3 exactly.
I left the building, I might have jigged before I caught a streetcar back to our apartment, went for breakfast at a local greasy spoon. I lounged away an hour, eating a big plate of eggs, bacon, ham, hash -No, I didn’t eat the plate!- doing newspaper sudoku, drinking coffee, enjoying myself. After I satiated myself, I meandered home to our apartment, where I leisurely took our dog for a walk, I checked the time on my BlackBerry upon returning and saw, it was 12:15 or thereabouts. Lots of time.
I started to clean the apartment. I can’t remember what I did, exactly, but it was a lot of work, I probably got all the Christmas things together, cleaned the dishes, put away our clothes, then started to tidy up the boy’s room. That was when I looked at the time, I glanced at my BlackBerry.
What did that say? I looked at it again; 2:39! Holy sh**! I need to pick up my boy! Oh damn!
Quick as a flash, panic rising, I threw on a coat, shoes, grabbed my keys and ran out the door, remembering to LOCK the door! I rushed to the elevator, jamming the button; down down down! Finally it arrived, I jumped in and began smashing Lobby… it plummeted, ever so slowly! I was out of the elevator like a shot, there might have been 1,500 spiders, wasps, and bedbugs in there! I hurtled out of the building, jumping down the stairs, and ran, I think this was the last time I actually ran, flat out for the streetcar stop.
Where is the streetcar? Darn it! I can’t see any coming! What time is it!? I rummage in my pockets, oh crap! Right now, if this was a movie, there would be a camera zooming in on my BlackBerry, which I left on the dishwasher! What a trip!
I can’t go back, as I’m already late, obviously I have no way of contacting anyone. So, I pull up my big boy pants and wait. I pace and pray and worry about my boy and curse and consider walking and try to flag a taxi and curse some more… Finally! I see a streetcar approaching, I’m on it quickly, mentally urging it on, but it is full of high school kids! Darn them and the Murphy’s Law they rode in on!
Twelve long blocks later, I dash out, and cut right in front of the streetcar, its idling anyways, kids are getting out, not a care in the world! I run to the daycare, there is my son pacing just inside the door! I rush to him, give him a big long hug, tell him I’m sorry for being late. He was anxious too! Phew! As I gather him up to leave, I spot a clock somewhere inside. It’s analog face announces the time as being 3:30. That was the longest 41 minutes of my life although it felt like 2 hours…
I can’t remember how we got home, I think Donna drove us, but when I got home, ten minutes later my wife also arrived.
She was ecstatic, relieved, happy. Donna called her when I didn’t show up, and the wife was texting me almost non-stop. She thought I had been in an accident of something when I didn’t reply! So, her co-worker drove her home.
That was nerve wracking yes! I cannot convey enough how anxious and worried I was about being late for my son!
Now, about Donna, fake name by the way; she was concerned that I was not ideal parent, she was flashing her power because I was late that day, and because some of the sippy cups I sent with the boy were not clean enough, and the boy was not responsive to socialization or whatever. There were many calls to the wife about my son not having mitts or that we took streetcar, or something was missing. Brian warned me about this! She seemed to weld a lot of control and power.
We continued to use that daycare, but we became more vigilant, observant and practical. I was never late to pick him up. After at least three months in the program, we finally decided enough and pulled our boy out. I can’t remember what exactly prompted our decision, but I think it was a Deaf parent with Hearing children group meeting every Friday. I wrote Donna a formal send off email, I told her to “delete all files and correspondence about my son,” basically I told her, politely, to buzz off!
I feel, and still do, that Donna was waiting for an opportunity when I would screw up so badly that she could find a way to have my son taken away from me/us. I think she was actually expecting it. This comment is based not on evidence, but on views from two other Deaf parents who lived in the same area as us; both parents had dealings with Donna, exact details are unknown to me.
I recall one Deaf parent always talking about how she lost her son. I don’t know any details, but whenever we talked she raved about her son, how old he was, if she saw him recently, what he was like. Talking about him obviously made him real to her, that she had given birth to a heathy child, even if she did not actually have custody of him. The other Deaf parent, who had a couple of kids, if I recall, always talked in negative vibes about the agency itself, her daughter attended the same program. As I mentioned, I know nothing of either parents situation; other than that the first Deaf parent had a serious addiction issue.
So, what I believe is that Donna expected me to fall into the same cracks and potholes that the other two Deaf parents did; she was watching me constantly, and how I interacted or presented my son.
This is a form of Ableism and Audism, both are forms of discrimination. And it is also Generalization, one cannot put a specific group of people into the same category: it can’t be done! For each person: Deaf, Greek, French-Canadian, Martian, Gay, Black, Baptist, Indigenous, Poor farmer, Rich octogenarian, Disabled, Bolshevik, Left-handed nudist Vegan, IKEA warehouse worker, Math teacher, etc etc… they do things differently. each and every parent raises their children differently! What happens in my house, does not happen in your house.
I believe, as does my wife, that Donna did great injustice by placing me in the same category as the other Deaf parents who, for unknown reasons,, made errors in judgement, mistakes, about their children’s well-being.
We are not the same, but different! Celebrate our differences.
What started as a blog about being on time, it turned into a blog about ableism versus disability, childrearing, and differences!
I would welcome comments from other parents with disabilities who were challenged by agencies who thought they were not parent-material. Anyone?
Thank you for reading!
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